Barium Enema

ExitCare Image A barium enema is a test that looks at the inside of your large intestine (bowel) using X-rays. Your bowel must be empty to do the test. If your bowel is not empty, this test cannot be done. Your clinic may give you a prep kit or tell you where to get one. If you make the appointment for your test, tell the person if:

  • You have dry, hard poops (constipation).

  • You have diabetes.

  • You have kidney (renal) disease.

  • You have a opening in your belly (abdomen) where food passes (colostomy).


The day before the test:

  • Eat a low-fiber breakfast such as hot wheat cereal, boiled or scrambled eggs, white bread, jelly, bacon, plain tea, black coffee, and butter.

  • Do not eat sugar or dairy products.

  • Drink 1 large glass of water each hour from 1:00 PM until 9:00 PM, or as told by your doctor.

  • For lunch and dinner, only drink clear liquids. Do not eat any solid foods. You may have:

  • Clear soup.

  • Unsweetened fruit juice.

  • Sugar-free gelatin.

  • Black coffee.

  • Plain tea.

  • Do not eat any milk, cheese, cream, or sugar.

  • At 5:00 PM, drink the whole bottle of magnesium citrate. This is a strong medicine that helps you go poop (laxative). You will have many poops (bowel movements).

  • At 8:00 PM, swallow the 3 bisacodyl tablets with water. Do not chew the tablets. This also helps you go poop.

It is very important for you to follow the instructions about what to eat and what not to eat. Drink all of the liquid prep medicine for your test, so that the poop in your bowel will be cleaned out.


  • Get up at least 2 hours before the time of your test. Do not eat or drink anything.

  • Put the suppository into your bottom (rectum).

  • You will poop (bowel movement) in 20 to 30 minutes.

  • If you take insulin for your diabetes, do not take your insulin the morning of your test. Bring your insulin with you. You may take it after your test is over.

  • ExitCare Image Go to the radiology department. Bring your ID and your medical record number.


  • You lie on a table and an X-ray of your belly is taken to make sure that your bowel is completely empty. If empty, you will turn on your side and a tube will be put into your bottom.

  • After the tube is in, a barium liquid will flow gently through the tube into your bowel. You may have cramping or feel like you need to poop. Hold the liquid barium in until you are told to go to the bathroom.

  • You will be asked to lie in different positions as the X-rays are being taken. You may go to the bathroom after the X-rays have been taken.

Finding out the results of your test

Ask when your test results will be ready. Make sure you get your test results.